Houma, LA. — A weekend motorcycle rally exceeded expectations by drawing as many as 2,500 motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country to Houma to ride, fraternize and enjoy the local flavor.
Based on preliminary estimates by the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, the rally injected a half-million dollars in retail sales alone to the area.
Civic Center Director David Ohlmeyer said that while on-site food sales were disappointing, thousands of dollars were spent in local restaurants.
"Everyone knows that the bikers were all over town," Ohlmeyer said. "Downtown Live After 5 was absolutely packed. In hindsight, we should have recognized that a rally is about the bikers taking rides out into the community."
Some of the vendors who set up stands in the Civic Center parking lot made money by catering private parties for the bikers. Those parties were held as far south as Cocodrie, he said, so the rally meant business not just for Houma but for much of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.
Michel Claudet, a local businessman and owner of the Quality Inn, Café Milano restaurant and Aficionado’s piano bar, said his business receipts were up 30 percent this weekend.
"I wish we could have something like this every weekend," Claudet said. "Everyone was real well-behaved and here to just enjoy Houma."
Organizer Ricky Ugas of the Houma Harley Owner’s Group chapter said he heard nothing but good things about the bayou region from out-of-state visitors.
"Everyone that came said this was one of their favorite rallies; you know, the food and the hospitality — Houma welcomed these guys with open arms. I never heard one person say they were sorry they came," said Ugas.
There were plenty of good memories to come out of the weekend, said Ugas. He witnessed one couple from Texas get married in the Civic Center parking lot, bringing their entire wedding party — including the preacher — in on motorcycles.
Bruno said that the rally wouldn’t return to Houma next year — it’s a rotating event that is hosted by multiple area cities, and the next location will be chosen in July. But he is confident the rally would make its way back to Houma.
"They are going to tell their friends and the next time this event comes around, I think we’ll get upwards of 4,000 people coming into Houma," said Ugas. "It was a lot of hard work, but I know its an experience I’m never gonna forget."